Guardiola hopes City can ‘seduce’ fans to fall in love with Champions League
Pep Guardiola hopes his Manchester City side can seduce their fans with their performances in the Champions League this season.
The Premier League champions are among the favourites to win Europe’s top club competition this season – as they compete in it for a ninth successive year – but their fans are still to be truly won over by it.
Guardiola has previously commented on the lack of atmosphere at European games in comparison to Premier League fixtures.
This has been alien to the Catalan given his background as a player and manager at Barcelona and also after working at Bayern Munich.
Yet City, who have leapt out of the pack to the top of the English game in the past decade, have no great tradition in the Champions League. Their supporters also regularly boo the competition anthem in a long-running protest against organisers UEFA.
“The fans must know it – without them and the nice environment at home it is impossible,” said Guardiola at a press conference to preview Tuesday’s Group C clash with Dinamo Zagreb at the Etihad Stadium, for which a crowd of 48-50,000 is expected.
“We are going to try in our football to seduce the fans and say, ‘OK we can do it’. We have to seduce them so they realise how it’s important, and the only way to seduce them is by winning games and playing good.
“I know for the fans it’s the Premier League that’s most exciting. We know that as a club, we’ve done polls, and the people prefer by far to win the Premier League than the Champions League. I know how special that is but this competition is nice too and our fans they have to live it as a dream.
“These players are fantastic, awesome, outrageous. They are top. They deserve to feel that they can win but we need the fans.”
After winning five of the last six domestic trophies on offer, the Champions League is now the last major target for City and Guardiola.
The Spaniard, who has won it twice previously with Barca, accepts this but he insists it is not the be-all and end-all.
The City boss said: “I want to win this tournament but if I don’t, it will not change my life. I am not going to kill myself, I promise you.
“Of course we are going to try but, I’m sorry, I’m not not going to live the next 10 months, or next season, thinking if I don’t win the Champions League it will be a disaster in my life, because my life is quite good every single day.”
City have been handed a relatively kind draw in this season’s group stage and opened their campaign with a 3-0 win at Shakhtar Donetsk.
They will also be expected to see off Dinamo at home but the Croatian champions did impress by thrashing Serie A side Atalanta last time out.
Guardiola said: “They were able to beat Atalanta, who last season finished third. Italy is a tough, tough league and they were able to beat them 4-0.
“It is enough of a warning to say ‘be careful, guys’.”